Tests exclude H5N1 cases in Kuwait, confirm 1 in Indonesia

Apr 5, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – A second round of H5N1 avian influenza tests came back negative today on four Bangladeshi men who initially tested positive after helping cull chickens in Kuwait, while tests confirmed the infection in a 15-year-old Indonesian girl, according to news services.

The four men were hospitalized in Kuwait—which has had no confirmed human cases—2 days ago after experiencing flu-like symptoms. Preliminary tests for the H5N1 virus were positive, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported yesterday.

Kuwaiti Health Minister Maasouma Saleh Al-Mubarak, in a press release today from the Kuwait News Agency, said confirmatory tests at the US Navy laboratory in Cairo (NAMRU-3) indicated the workers did not have avian flu. She said the patients would remain under medical supervision and treatment for 10 more days.

For unknown reasons, very few H5N1 cases have occurred in poultry cullers and certain other presumably high-risk groups, such as veterinarians and workers in live-bird markets, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

Samples from nine poultry workers in South Korea who assisted with outbreaks in 2003 and 2004 showed evidence of past H5N1 infection, but they had no clinical symptoms. During Hong Kong's first outbreak in 1997, a few poultry cullers, household contacts of patients, and healthcare workers tested positive despite having no serious illness, according to reports in medical journals.

Meanwhile, Indonesia announced that a second round of H5N1 testing confirmed that a 15-year-old girl from Jakarta had H5N1 avian flu, Xinhua and other news services reported today. The girl, who fell ill on Mar 28, is hospitalized in intensive care, according to an AFP report. The girl has looked after chickens and birds, the Xinhua report said.

The WHO has confirmed 81 H5N1 cases with 63 deaths in Indonesia. But since Jan 29, Indonesia has reported as confirmed at least 11 cases (including the one today) that have not yet been recognized by the WHO.

See also:

Sep 21, 2006, CIDRAP News story "Five Koreans had H5N1 virus but no illness"

Jan 26, 2006, CIDRAP News story "WHO report highlights bird flu puzzles"

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